April 27, 2011

$100M complex proposed for Thompson's Point

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Two of the principal owners of the Maine Red Claws basketball team are rolling out plans for a $100 million hotel-convention center-office development on Thompson's Point.

Jon Jennings and William J. Ryan Jr. told The Portland Press Herald that the development would be privately funded, although they may seek a property tax break from the city.

They plan to formally unveil the project tomorrow.

A key piece of the project, to be called The Forefront, would be a 48,000-square-foot convention center that would also be a 3,500-seat arena for the Red Claws. It would be attached to a hotel on one side and a music hall on the other that would seat between 1,000 and 2,000 people, Ryan and Jennings said.

The project would also include a 700-car parking garage and two office buildings, along with a surface parking lot.

Although the Red Claws would play in the arena, Ryan and Jennings said the project would be managed by a separate company.

Ryan said most of the investors have been lined up, led by his father, William Ryan Sr., the former head of TD Bank in Portland, and Steve Griswold, a hotel developer in Maine and New Hampshire. Jennings said they have discussed the project with banks and haven't formally approached any, but are confident that the financing will be arranged.

Jennings also said that the city, state and federal officials have received briefings and they hope to have all the permits needed by the end of the year. Demolition of existing structures would begin next winter, followed by construction. The office buildings and hotel would take about a year to build, he said, and the arena/convention center and music hall would take about 18 months to complete.

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